Top 10 Johnny Cash Songs

Josh Gruss, Joshua Gruss

Johnny Cash is one of country music’s most iconic voices. The Man in Black has many well-known songs that were hits in his time and continue to have resonance today. From his first hit song “Cry! Cry! Cry!” in 1955 to his death in 2003, Cash left behind an amazing legacy.

In his memory, below are our top 10 favorites from his discography.

1.) “Man in Black”
Released in 1971, this song reached the No. 3 position on the Billboard country charts. It’s an answer to the question of why Cash was always seen wearing black, and it’s an anthem about everything that mattered to him. It’s the heart and soul of his music and as good an introduction as any to Johnny Cash.

2.) “Ballad of a Teenage Queen”
Released in 1958, this song was one of Cash’s greatest commercial successes. It topped the charts for 10 weeks and was especially popular with teenagers.

3.) “Hurt”
Originally written and performed by Trent Reznor of the band Nine Inch Nails, “Hurt” was one of Cash’s last big hits. It reached double platinum sales and was named Single of the Year by CMA. Most significantly, Reznor was recorded as saying admiringly that Cash had taken the song and made it his; for many, “Hurt” will forever be remembered as a Cash song.

4.) “Ring of Fire”
Written by June Carter, this is one of the catchiest Johnny Cash songs ever recorded. It topped the charts in 1963 and continues to be one of the most recognizable Cash songs to this day.

5.) “Daddy Sang Bass”
This song came out in 1969 and serves as a foot-tapping callback to his gospel music roots. The song was a much-needed repreive from the darkness of an era eclipsed by Vietnam War news.

6.) “Flesh and Blood”
This song came out in 1970 and was one of many love songs inspired by June Carter. It’s notable for its heartfelt earnestness. Few other love songs could rival it for its sheer raw honesty.

7.) “Sunday Morning Coming Down”
This 1970 release is a powerful collaboration between the genius of Cash and Kris Kristofferson. It resonates with the same existential gloom and weariness that appears in many Cash songs but with a heart of hope as well.

8.) “I Walk the Line”
There’s a good reason this song was chosen as the title of the Johnny Cash bio-pic. With its lyrical depth, signature sound and crossover success, this love song to his first wife remains one of Cash’s best songs.

9.) “Folsom Prison Blues”
Released in 1956, this was one of Cash’s earliest songs and also a codifier for his musical career. The song lays down many of the themes both lyrically and in terms of sound that would become synonymous with Cash in later years.

10.) “A Boy Named Sue”
With lyrics composed by Shel Silverstein, this crossover success won a Grammy in 1969. The song is pure magic, but the best part is hearing the way Cash tries to hold back his laughter as he sings through the increasingly ridiculous tale of Sue’s revenge.

Do you have a favorite Johnny Cash song not listed above? Let us know in the comments!


Josh Gruss is the Chairman, CEO and founder of Round Hill Music. Prior to founding Round Hill Music, from 2002 to 2009, Mr. Gruss worked at Gruss Asset Management where he held various positions of increasing responsibility, most recently as a Partner and member of the investment and executive committees.

3 Tips to Break Into the Music Industry

3 Tips to Break Into the Music Industry

Breaking into the music business can seem like a daunting task to those new to the industry. Large music companies are known for being highly selective, and thanks to advances in home recording technology, there are more great musicians than ever before. The rise of smartphones and open source programs has put the ability to create in the hands of the average person; but you want to be more than average– you crave the big spotlight! Here are 3 key tools you can use to help you rise to the top and become the rock star you’ve always dreamed of being.

Get Out and Get Networking
Business journals always list networking as an important part of growing your business. Despite how much fun being a musician is, it is, after all, a business. This means that having a list of contacts goes a long way toward opening up opportunities. Going to shows and mingling with other music lovers is a simple and fun way to meet people with the same goals. Becoming part of a street team is an excellent way to physically immerse yourself in the world of music. You’ll meet other enthusiastic individuals and form valuable contacts, many of which may be with you for the span of your career.

Just be careful to try to give as much as you take; no one likes to feel used. Commit to being a true friend to all of your contacts and do for them what you would want done for you. You never know when even the most innocuous person can turn out to be your secret weapon for getting the word out about your work.

Utilize Social and Free Media

Many successful artists of the past decade have gotten their start using one of the social and free media platforms that have shown up over the years. YouTube and Instagram stars are people who were shrewd enough to use these free sites to their advantage, promoting themselves without spending a dime. Social sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter can give your potential fans direct, up-to-the-minute info on your musical project. Keeping your fans engaged with teasers and original content will help to keep you fresh in their minds. Consider setting up a YouTube channel to host your videos to make them accessible to those who don’t use social media.

Connect With a Mentor
Among the people you meet while promoting yourself, there is almost certain to be a seasoned individual or two whom you hit it off with; many of these professionals are eager to pass on what they have learned over the course of their careers. Having a mentor to look up to as you work your way towards your goals will help you to avoid making common industry mistakes. Having a person in your corner who is already successful will also give you the confidence you need to carry on when things look dark.

Now you can leap forward fearlessly and seize your rock star destiny!

Josh Gruss is the CEO of Round Hill Music. Previously a partner at Gruss & Co., a private investment firm based in New York City.

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